Kyle Books is looking back at its achievements so far as it celebrates 25 years of publishing.
Kyle Books was founded in 1994 by Kyle Cathie, who had previously worked at Pan, Hamish Hamilton and Macmillan. Cathie said: “While I was at Macmillan there was a takeover of Pan and I thought it was like going back to where I’d been already. I had always wanted to set up a publisher, so I did it!”
The company was initially funded through contributions from family and friends “to get us off the ground” and in 1996 Kyle did another round of fundraising. Cathie added: “For our size it’s easier to ask friends and family than trying to raise money from venture capital.”
Kyle Books launched with six titles including Patricia Well's Bistro Cooking, the only complete paperback collection of Rudyard Kipling's verse at the time, and Voices of Glasnost, which included interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformers in the Soviet Union and was serialised in the Sunday Times. Cathie said: “They all had a reason to be on the list: because they were going to last forever. We have always aimed to produce books that will stay in print, have an element of reference and look pretty.”
In 1995 Kyle published 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi which has gone on to sell 137,721 copies across three paperback editions, worth £1.39m to UK booksellers, according to Nielsen BookScan. The title also marked Kyle’s introduction to colour and the book has been translated into 12 languages. Kyle has also published the official Wagamama cookbooks (2005’s The Wagamama Cookbook and 2006’s Ways with Noodles, both by Hugo Arnold). Backlist titles include the Ballymaloe cookbooks and, more recently, singer Kelis’ My Life on a Plate (2015, £10).
Looking forward, Cathie mentioned “dabbling in digital”. She explained: “We’re not in a great hurry because it’s difficult for our type of books— cookbooks and coffee table books. At the moment there isn’t the perfect platform, but we are ready for when there is.”
Kyle, which distributes through LBS (Littlehampton Book Services), publishes 30 books a year in the UK and five in the US. As well as traditional bookshops, it also sells through shops such as Urban Outfitters and Anthrolopogie, and hopes its upcoming 101 Things to Do with an A4 Sheet of Paper, by internal editors Judith Hannam and Sarah Dennis (November, £9.99), will succeed in those channels. As Cathie said: “At least it’s not another colouring book.”